At the beginning of each new year, I always write a bunch of posts recapping the previous year. Apart from the annual post containing my New Year’s resolutions, most of them usually have something to do with books.
Last year, though, I tried something new, based on an idea I got from Boquinha and Dr. Mark @ Sushi and Pizza. They each published “year in review”-type posts that included the question, “What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?” and I decided to answer that question on my own blog.
Now it’s time to do so again, this time for 2016.
This time WITH PICTURES because last time I didn’t include any and I think it’s just as much fun to see my year in review as it is to read and write about it.
1. Wrote a “___ things I did in ____ that I’d never done before” post
OH HUSH. THIS TOTALLY COUNTS. I think this is a really positive way of looking back at the year before. Obviously, not all “firsts” are good, but trying to come up with answers to the question of, “What did you do last year that you’d never done before?” helps me to see past all the bad stuff that happened in 2016: Some good things happened too.
2. Watched an LGBTQ+ film in theaters
Between Orlando and the presidential election, 2016 often felt like a terrifying and discouraging year to be gay. One bright spot was seeing Carol IN AN ACTUAL THEATER, which is so not something I ever did as a kid or teen! Here’s to hoping that more happy LGBTQ+ movies hit the mainstream in the days to come.
3. Watched Les Misérables
I still have yet to read the book, although doing so is mentioned on the bucket list I created on my twentieth birthday! I watched the 2012 movie adaptation with some friends and now I have even more fictional characters to be super emotional about. And more amazing music that makes me cry.
Caucusing was incredibly noisy and crowded, two things that stress me out as an anxious, introverted person – but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Iowa is the first state in the nation to hold a presidential primary and since I have no idea where I’ll be living when the next election comes around, of course I had to take part. I went there with a bunch of my friends and it was so much fun!
5. Sought out mental health help
I’ve dealt with anxiety, depression, and OCD throughout my life, particularly during these past four years. In February I started going to the University Counseling Services at my school, which has helped immensely. Since then I’ve been more or less continuously involved in either individual or group therapy. I also tried psychiatric meds for the first time this summer, although I haven’t found any that work yet. (Mostly they just made me unable to sleep. Ew.) I also told my family about the trouble I’ve been having, which was a HUGE step toward getting better. I hope.
Actually, I met several! The first was Alison Bechdel in April, followed by Roxane Gay and Rick Riordan at the Iowa City Book Festival in October, and finally Lois Lowry in November. I’m so grateful to live in such a literary place as Iowa City!
Again, I went to several of these! I got my copy of Fun Home autographed at the local comic book store and asked Roxane Gay to autograph Bad Feminist, one of my all-time favorite books, as well. Lois Lowry signed my well-worn and much-loved copies of The Giver and Number the Stars too!
(I also acquired an autographed copy of Riordan’s latest book, The Hammer of Thor, at his event, but that was pre-signed so I don’t quite think that counts. Still pretty cool, though.)
This was… interesting. On one hand, it was extremely difficult for me because very few of my friends remained in Iowa City over the summer, so I felt isolated and then depressed as a result of that isolation. It was frequently hard to find the motivation to keep up with the coursework in my summer classes, and I ended up sleeping during the day and staying up all night many times.
But on the other hand, I had an amazing roommate, Luísa, and together she and I and her friends had so many adventures. From watching movies under the stars at the park and eating many (probably way too many) ice cream cones to visiting the farmer’s market and going to the county fair, we made so many great memories. I really miss her!
The day after the Orlando shooting, I attended a vigil in downtown Iowa City. Naturally, I hope there won’t be very many more of these in my future because the existence of each one implies that something tragic has happened. But I would like to thank everyone who organized and attended this vigil for making it so special. Definitely an eye-opening moment as a young LGBTQ+ person.
Only a few days after the vigil, I attended Iowa City Pride! The parade, although short, was so much fun to watch, and I enjoyed seeing everyone (and their dogs!) decked out in rainbows. Even got some rainbows painted on my face because I’M JUST THAT GAY.
I dreamed of doing this for so long! Basic Acting (for non-majors) was one of the most demanding classes I’ve ever taken, but it was SO worth it. Everyone in the small class was very quiet at first, but by the end of the six-week course we were much more comfortable with one another and unafraid to give it our all when it came to scenes, acting games, et cetera.
Probably the best decision I made in 2016! I donated the inches I chopped off to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. I adore having short hair because it’s so easy to take care of! I only wish I’d done it earlier, because I’d been debating whether or not to get it cut since I was about sixteen.
13. Skyped someone
This is in no way intended to be an advertisement for Skype, BTW… I just thought it should be included here because chatting with my friends is so much fun! I didn’t realize that a free version was even available so for the longest time I didn’t use Skype, but now I use it once a month or so to catch up with people. It’s the closest I can get to meeting my online friends face-to-face right now!
14. Used the Pomodoro technique
This reminded me that I need to use this method during the spring semester! I got really into time management/productivity stuff as a result of exploring studyblr so I thought I’d try this out. It makes it much easier to get things done despite my OCD because I stubbornly tell myself that I am NOT allowed to fall down the rabbit hole of my obsessive-compulsive thoughts until the next twenty-five minutes (or however much time is left) are up. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, at least I tried!
15. Earned a C in a college class
Now, I wouldn’t say I’m PROUD of this or anything, but I can’t deny that the experience taught me a lot. I learned to ask for help. I learned that I need better time management skills. ( I may or may not have completed the entire final project in less than six hours the night before it was due. Oops.) I learned that sometimes it’s OK to let some things slide if doing so allows me to focus on other things: I got As in my other three summer classes. I decided that it was more important to earn a C in Shakespeare 400 and an A in Basic Acting, which I took concurrently with the Shakespeare course, than to earn Bs in both.
16. Watched anime
My roommate this year is SUPER into anime, so she introduced me to the genre this fall. We’ve been slooowly making our way through Ouran High School Host Club, which is cheesy AF and exactly what I need. It’s so lighthearted, silly, and short – perfect for quick study breaks. I like that some actual plot and character depth is beginning to come into the story, as well. I’m not totally sure what we’re going to watch after this, but I do have a few ideas.
17. Joined a writing group
LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE IOWA WRITERS’ HOUSE. It’s an amazing community of writers from Iowa City and the surrounding area and I honestly don’t know how I lived without those people before! This is the first writing group I’ve ever been a part of and they’re so supportive. Writing doesn’t have to be lonely! I actually started working for the IWH as one of the co-leaders of the Rainbow Room, their LGBTQ+ fiction subgroup, and in the future I may help out with the Great Green Room, designed for authors and illustrators of children’s/middle grade/YA books as well!
18. Entered my twenties (!!!)
This was sooooo weird, let me tell you. I mean, I’m not a teenager anymore?! WHAT. Also, I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and that I’m not qualified to be this old. Buuuut on the other hand the idea of starting a brand-new decade of my life is pretty cool!
19. Made a video
This is something I’ve wanted to do for so long, but I didn’t know how! Well, I finally learned how in the Intro to Multimedia Storytelling class I took this fall as part of my journalism major. I produced a feature story on my favorite indie bookstore in town, the Haunted Bookshop. I learned how to use Final Cut Pro X, which STRESSES ME TF OUT, but in the end creating it was a blast and I was so proud of what I’d made!
20. Voted in a presidential election
While I’ve voted before, I wasn’t old enough to vote in the 2012 presidential election… so I was really excited about this one! The day of the election was RATHER DISTRESSING and I cried all night long as the results were announced on CNN, but let’s not focus on that: After all, I voted early! #IGuessImWithHer
What did you do for the first time in 2016?